Ms. Marker is the world's expert on cheetahs. Deemed so by no less than Smithsonian Magazine, which has a feature article on her in the March issue.
This striking-looking woman is also striking in her intelligence and dedication. Devoted to animal welfare all her life, she moved to Namibia in 1991, founding the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Not only did she do research into breeding these difficult-to-rear animals, discovering a lack of genetic variability low sperm counts, she intervened on a grass-roots level, visiting farmers to help them find ways to protect their cattle without killing cheetahs.
Anyway, this very cool woman with the infectious smile partied with us for the weekend, and on Sunday, captivated the audience as we watched cheetahs chase a rabbit pelt around a track. They didn't get up to the speed they do in the wild. They didn't have to, not being hungry. But the cheetahs put on a great show, and Ms. Marker's comments gave us all a sense of understanding these magnificent cats.
She is also responsible for discovering the benefits of a breed of dogs called the Andalusian Shepherd. These dogs are very protective and have been used to guard farmers' flocks from cheetahs and other predators in Namibia. So it's not surprising that at White Oak, when they needed a companion to grow up with orphaned cheetah Hazari, they took Laurie's recommendation and got an Andalusian pup named Kadir to be her foil and playmate for life. He outweighs her big time now, but she's got the attitude and agility to be his equal. They're five months old now, playing tug-of-war; one of the most charming success stories you could ever hope to see.
[Image taken with my ATT Tilt, simply because I had nowhere to carry my Panasonic Lumix camera.]